LAPD gang officers accused of racial profiling in detention of fellow officer

LAPD officers saluting
An off-duty Los Angeles police officer was detained Saturday in South L.A. with another man suspected of possessing drugs and a gun. The officer, who is Black, says he was racially profiled by LAPD gang officers.
(Patrick T. Fallon / For The Times)

The off-duty Los Angeles police officer who was detained Saturday night alongside a man suspected of possessing drugs and a gun has accused the officers who detained him of racial profiling.

The officer has accused members of a Los Angeles Police Department gang enforcement unit of confronting him because he is Black, and not having a legal justification to detain him, according to three department sources.

The officer has not responded to a request for comment. The Times is not naming him because he was not arrested in the incident and has not been charged with a crime.

The allegation, which LAPD officials say they are investigating, further muddies the already disconcerting situation surrounding Saturday’s encounter in South Los Angeles.


Department officials have repeatedly refused to provide details about the incident beyond saying that both the officer and the arresting officers are the subject of internal affairs investigations.

Sometime on Saturday night, gang officers assigned to the LAPD’s 77th Street Division spotted two men standing next to a parked vehicle, said two sources in the department who were not authorized to discuss an ongoing investigation. When the officers approached, one of the men tossed a bag into the car, according to the sources. Their suspicions aroused, the gang officers started to question the men, the sources said.

A subsequent search of the bag turned up narcotics and at least one unregistered firearm, sources said.

The sources said the officer identified himself as an off-duty member from the LAPD’s Southwest Division and denied knowing about the drugs or gun.

Dquan Clarke, the man with the officer, was arrested on suspicion of possessing a concealed gun and narcotics. Clarke is affiliated with an area gang, the sources said.

Investigators from the LAPD’s internal affairs unit were summoned to the scene, and the decision was ultimately made not to arrest the officer because there was no evidence tying him directly to the bag, the sources said.


As part of its investigation, the department will review video of the encounter from cameras worn by the gang officers.

An LAPD spokesperson on Monday confirmed that the detained officer and the gang unit officers were under investigation by the internal affairs unit, but said she was limited in what she could say about an ongoing investigation. She did not say why the gang officers approached the men in the first place or which of the men tossed the bag into the car.

Clarke, 28, of Los Angeles, was released from jail early Monday after posting bail. In January 2017, he was charged in L.A. County with grand theft, petty theft, attempted grand theft and forgery in connection with a Dec. 6, 2016, incident. He pleaded no contest to grand theft in September 2017 and was sentenced to 30 days in jail and three years’ probation, court records show.

Under LAPD policy, officers are prohibited from associating with known gang members or others engaged in criminal activity.

The Los Angeles Police Commission inspector general’s office has said it is aware of the incident and will monitor any investigations that result from it.

Times staff writer Kevin Rector contributed to this report.